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CFS, energy and coping

In 1993 I was approaching 30, freshly separated from my then husband, new job 50 miles away from my home, long working hours, pressure, pressure, pressure.  The country hadn’t yet emerged from the yuppie, upwardly mobile ’80s – we were all caught up in it.  I was also witnessing the other side of it – my new boyfriend had just been made redundant from his ‘job for life’ in the coal mines of Staffordshire, the potteries were also closing as manufacturing moved to cheaper countries.

I came down with ‘flu.  Not a bad cold but the real deal.  The doctor gave me antibiotics ………  I went back to work too soon and had a relapse.  More antibiotics, more time off work.  But this time there were other things going on.  No energy whatsoever, an ache in all my muscles and bones, to the point where some days I simply couldn’t move, long after the ‘flu had subsided.  I also developed breathing difficulties and used inhalers.  The depression and sense of worthlessness was crippling.  After 6 months, I was made redundant –  my world was breaking up around me.  Chronic fatigue syndrome was mentioned as was post viral syndrome.

Eventually my energy slowly started to return.  Clean eating, cutting way back on alcohol, rest …. and possibly the knowledge that there was a clean slate, a new start.  I retrained in office systems, although it was hard to say goodbye to my successful but very stressful career in catering.

Since then I have been watchful, keeping a close eye on my stress and energy levels.  Learning to say no; one of the hardest lessons in life.  Learning that I didn’t have to be successful in my job to be successful in life.  Learning to put myself first.  Learning to take a step back.  I won’t say my life was perfect from then on, far from it.  I was still plagued by my low self esteem, itself a massive energy drain, and depression.

I do think that having gone through CFS, coming out the other side, although there is never true recovery, has been a powerful part of my Yoga discovery.  In Yoga we work with Prana, life force itself, which I was already very aware of having lost it for a while.  In Reiki I also work with Prana, channelling this amazing energy.  I now cultivate it, cherish and nurture it.

Around 2003, Transcendental Meditation™ came into my life.  Although I was soon to explore other avenues of meditation, I learnt straight away what a powerful tool this is to have.  Meditation is life saving!  True.  In stilling the mind, recovery, replenishment, opening up happens.  It’s like a daily recharge.  I don’t make time for the required 40 minutes a day that is taught in TM, I do however always make sure there  is space to meditate.  This might not always be a formal, seated affair.  It might be a walk in the countryside, baking, being quiet and contemplative.  It might be a few minutes whilst waiting in a queue.  The opportunities are endless.

My energy story isn’t as serious as many other I have come across.  I was never diagnosed with ME, fibromyalgia and so on.  I was fortunate.

My Yoga Journey

I thought I would write a few words about how Yoga came into my life – it has turned into several paragraphs!  To me it seemed a little indulgent first of all, but it may strike a chord with you so I have left it as I first typed it – a bit raw.  x

I was born to a white middle class couple in the ’60s who did everything ‘by the book’, listened to the Beatles until they (the Beatles) found marijuana and the Maharishi, dad pursued his career and mum made sure his shirts were clean and ironed and there was tea on the table.

However there were hints that something less middle of the road was going on apart from the John Lennon ashtray.   There was a Yoga book!  I remember a brown cover that merged with the rest of the early ’70s.  I have no idea where or when my mother practised Yoga but there was this book which I found fascinating.  Towards the end of the ’70s and into the ’80s she would go to a local authority class held at a nearby secondary school.  It was never talked about or mentioned, but it was there ….

I wasn’t drawn to a class myself until the ’90s but I loved trying the postures out of the book.  In my early 20s, finding myself in a damp bedsit heated by a calor gas fire (which didn’t prevent the ice build up inside the windows but did promote the growth of mould on the walls) and I bought the Jane Fonda book – I didn’t get the leg warmers though  and wasn’t interested in the aerobics nor in the ‘burn’.  But I did love the stretches and holds and made the exercises into a practice of my own.

I have always struggled with extreme shyness, being a natural introvert, zero self esteem and self confidence.  If ever I dared to voice an opinion it was always shot down by someone or other.  I had been in trouble one way or another throughout my teenage years and into my 20s.  I managed to get myself into plenty of scrapes, dabbled in drugs, drank too much, developed a 40 a day cigarette habit and was promiscuous (not believing anyone would actually contemplate a relationship with me).  No excuses for this, nothing.  But it did damage me.  Depression, anxiety, drink dependence, low self esteem, swift marriage and swifter divorce, deeper depression, thoughts of suicide …………  Counselling was good, very helpful.  Yoga was better …………..

I started with a book at home when I was pregnant, but gave up as I had SPD.  I loved the breathing practices I found in the book which I carried on with, together with ‘legs up the wall’ which is still my favourite pose.   Would I go to a class?  No, no, no – no-one would want me in their class.

Following birth, I got back to fitness but still the mind wasn’t fixed.  After a while, and counselling, I plucked up the courage to go to a daytime yoga class.  Wow!  Amazing, just what mind, body and soul needed ……….. but I didn’t stay.  Back to a book at home as how could I possibly be in a Yoga class?  No-one would want me in their class (what a silly idea that was – it was a great class aimed at older people and they were amazing and confident), so back to a book.

Fast forward a few years, helping to nurse my father through a horrendous illness, step children problems, more counselling.  Dad eventually died and to help us through, mum and I enrolled in a Yoga class together.  This was just what we both needed and was the beginning of healing.  Quickly I started going to two classes a week, one Hatha and the other Ashtanga.  I also started to meditate daily.

There were a few stops and starts – for example whenever the monkey on my shoulder told me I wasn’t good enough to be in a class.  But eventually I learnt to tame the monkey.  It still pops up but less and less these days.

Going on the BWY foundation course in 2009 was another turning point, from which there was no going back.  Now I have the tools to cope and I trained to be a teacher to give something back, to try to help others that may be suffering in a similar way.

Om Shanti, Shanti, Shanti

Taking a leap of faith

19th November 2016

Well, I have taken I leap of faith, listened to my heart, done a lot of soul searching and talking to those that guide me in life and decided to ditch the day job and teach more Yoga!  I enjoy my Monday and Wednesday evening classes so much – it’s an amazing experience teaching what I love and (hopefully) helping others.

Over the years I have been self centred, eaten up by anxiety and neurosis.  Attending Yoga classes helped me to regain some sort of sanity, but it was learning to incorporate it into my daily life that really helped me turn a corner.  That is what a teacher aims to do and I hope that my students get that from me.

So a big leap in January from 2 classes per week to 7.

Thank you to everyone who has supported me so far and welcome aboard new students, new experiences, new challenges ….. life at its best!

Love and light to all of you.

Om Shanti